Chapter 35: How to Price Your Book & When to Set It to Free

You might not think of pricing as part of your marketing, but it definitely is.  One of the bonuses to self-publishing is that you have complete control over your price and can change it whenever you want based on how the sales are going.  Before we get into where your book price should lie, I’m going to go into Amazon’s different royalty plans via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has different royalty plans based on the format.  For paperback, you’ll automatically be set to 60% with a minimum price of $9.06, but please realize that 60% doesn’t include what they’re taking out for printing.  You can also do expanded distribution where your books becomes available to more readers through bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and academic institutions (for a hit of bringing your royalty down to 40%).  Although this is AMAZING and can definitely help expand your audience, just keep in mind that it just puts your book on a list, and Amazon doesn’t guarantee any extra sales.  It also increases your minimum price to $13.59.

­For eBooks, KDP lets you pick between two different royalty plans.  35% and 70%.  Of course, I would suggest using the 70% in most instances (duh, higher percentage means higher paycheck) but you can only select this option if your eBook is between $2.99 and $9.99.  If you’re writing a long series, I would highly recommend bringing the book down to 99 cents and doing the 35% royalty.  I’ll get more into ‘why’ later… I would also suggest looking at the global market places and bringing the to X.99 across the board.­

One of the bonuses to being self-published is that you have a lot less overhead compared to traditional publishing, as well as the fact you get a higher royalty per sale.  This means that we have the opportunity to change our prices a lot more depending on what we’re seeing on our sales report.

Non-fiction books tend to sell for higher than fiction.  Why?  Because the readers are generally looking for a book to answer one specific question for them, where for fictions the readers tend to shop continuously until they find something they like.  I would suggest checking the top 100 in your category and see with what price you can get away with.  Don’t sell your debut indie novel for $12 when even top sellers in your genre are selling for $8.

I would say the most common price for indie authors just starting out is $2.99 for eBooks and $9.99 for paperbacks.  As you build a loyal audience and start to have more steady purchases, start to up your price.  It’s all about supply and demand.  Once your readers know that they like your books, they’ll be willing to spend more because its quality is guaranteed.

If you can get your book cover artist to make a paperback cover, make your book paperback.  Amazon will produce the books for you.  I’ve done it for my books, and although they’re not the BEST quality, they’re still really good and seem sturdy.  Even if you see you’re not making the paperback sales, I would keep it up there.  Amazon tells its customers the prices of both, and seeing the eBook price compared to the higher paperback price will make your potential readers feel like they’re getting a better deal.

Take advantage of your independency with the price and price pulse.  Price pulsing is doing limited-time price changes for a specific sales period.  You lower your prices for a short time and promote the sale.  Blast it any venue you can find that you’re having a sale.  For Kobo and iBooks, you can schedule price changes in advantage, but you have to go in manually for Amazon.  Be sure to do this a few days earlier than your announced sales date, because it can sometimes take a few days to reflect the change.  Also, don’t forget for Amazon to go back in there to change it back to its normal price once the sale is over.

If you have multiple books out, use the opportunity to set your books to multiple price points.  It’s a great way to spread out your risk and see what works best.  I would definitely suggest the lower price points being at the beginning of your series and upping the price once you know you have the readers hooked.

A question I know a lot of authors ask is “how can a free book make me money?”  Or they think that by setting it to free, they’re undervaluing all of their hard work.  But think of a taste tester at a Publix (or other grocery store… sorry I’m from Florida!).  You try the delicious cheese or dessert for free, and next thing you know you’re buying the whole pack.  As a reader, why would you spend money on a book or series when you have no idea what to expect?  Especially when they can get another book from a big name author that they know they can trust for quality.  That’s why free works best with the first book in a series.  Get them invested in your characters for free, and then they’ll be handing you their money all series long.  In fact, some reports have shown that 60% of readers who buy a free book will go on to buy another book from the same author.

If you’ve recently finished a novel or are about to, and have questions where you should set that price point, comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

The Witch’s March: History Fact #4

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918.

When thinking of World War I, Budapest isn’t a city that often comes to mind, even though it served as capital to its empire.  With energy that rivaled Vienna and café society that rivaled Paris, Budapest entered the 20th century on the rise.  And although it never saw enemy faces inside its walls, the city was destroyed by the Great War all the same.  Although I take liberties to bring a group of Allies into the city, it wouldn’t be fair for me to not divulge into how terrible war can be even when it’s not right at your doorstep…

World War I helped lead to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and not only that but half of the Hungarian population was cut away by the Treaty of Trianon and made part of surrounding nations.  From 1918 to 1919, Budapest was shaken by two revolutions: The Aster Revolution followed by two years of White Terror.

The Aster Revolution received its name because the revolting citizens placed aster flowers in their hats and caps to symbolize support for the Hungarian National Council and Count Károlyi.  They even took it upon themselves to demobilize soldiers in the city.  They murdered the former Prime Minister István Tisza and forced Prime Minister Sándor Wekerle to resign.  By the end of the day, King Charles IV was forced to accept them and Károlyi became the new Prime Minister.  One of his first acts?  Dissolving the Austro-Hungarian union.

The victorious Entente powers then took steps to carve out any ethnicity that wasn’t white, including Czechoslovakia and Romania.  The overall efforts resulted in Hungary losing two thirds of its land area and one third of its Hungarian-speaking nationals.  You don’t have to be an expert in socioeconomics to understand that this drastic change was bound to pull out problem after problems…

The nation’s attempts to form a single stable government failed, and by March of 1919 communists had taken over.

 

Chapter 34: How to Market for a Book Series

Writing a series (or even books aimed for the same audience) is one of the smartest things you can do.  Why?  Repeat customers are much easier to reach than new customers.  On average, it takes three to four books for a reader to remember the name of an author.  And readers tend to shop for new books by author names first.  I’m evidence of that myself, as I pre-ordered both Legendary and Finale when they respectively came out, because I was so in love with Caraval.  Stephanie Garber hooked me on the series and didn’t have to do any follow-up marketing to keep me buying the books.

Various authors, such as Joanna Penn, have also talked about how book sets do better than individual books.  Penn has even said that when she combined a trilogy into a set, the set sold more than each individual book combined.  Why?  Think of when you go to Netflix and are looking for a new tv show to binge.  Do you pick one with only one season or with three or four right there ready to be watched?  The binge mentality of this generation has made it so that some readers won’t even invest in a book series until there’s multiple books available to dive into right then and there.  And don’t forget about branded covers!  Start by thinking of the overarching theme of the entire series, and bring it onto the cover.  Think of Harry Potter and how every book had a similar format adapted for the specific plot.

When you publish a new book in the series, it doesn’t make sense to focus your external advertising on anything but the first book.  You have to bring them into the start of the series, otherwise they’ll look at the ad and likely feel too lazy to seek out the first book themselves.  Advertise for the upcoming book internally in a place where your already existing fans know where to find it – your website, blog, podcast, etc.

Don’t forget about pricing!  It’s good to have a solid, low introductory price.  Free or 99 cents would be ideal for the first book, and then for the second onward pricing at $2.99, $3.99, or $4.99.  Charge more if you see your readers are willing to pay more.  It’s a business after all!

Pick a damn good series title.  Some authors such as Stephanie Garber in her Caraval series I mentioned earlier, or myself in my very own The Freedom Game series, use the first book’s title as the series title.  This is good if the first book title encompasses the series as a whole.  But, if you know the mood of that title won’t fit later on, start thinking.  Think of the overarching plot or, as the wonderful Russo brothers might say, the endgame.  A great example of this is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Each title is then branded to a similar template: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and finally A Dance with Dragons.

The description of your book and the product pages should also follow a similar template.  Match the description to the tone of the series.  Zero in one each book’s cliffhanger.

Have call to actions!  Each book should end with a link to buy the next one, a link to sign up for your subscription list, and a request to leave a review.  Also, compliment your series through a short series or novella.  Keep it cheaper (around 99 cents) and bring them into the universe.  Make them fall in love with your characters.

That’s all I have for now.  I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July last week!

The Ghost Machine: Buy Today!

So I’m having a mega-proud sister moment because my sister’s phenomenal steampunk novel, The Ghost Machine, is relaunching with Silver Empire Publishing!  If you already have it as an e-book, guess what!  It’ll also soon be available in both paperback and hardback – the gift that just keeps giving.

BUY THE E-BOOK ON AMAZON TODAY HERE!

Follow me on twitter at @JE_Brand for more updates! Still not enough?  Follow the author herself at @brandedkristen and see more of her upcoming projects on her website.

~*~

Ella Rosenfeld doesn’t feel insane.

In fact, she feels quite normal. Exactly how she did before the accident.

Until the sun goes down. Then the hallucinations start…and the ghosts come. Sometimes they speak to her. Sometimes they merely stare. But they couldn’t possibly be real, could they?

Checking herself into an asylum in the mountains of Eastern Europe, Ella hopes the doctor there can cure her. She doesn’t want to be a burden to her family. She doesn’t want to keep seeing ghosts, or whatever they are, every night. Desperate for relief, she’ll try anything to banish the dead.

But there is no solace to be found. Only silence, knitting, and cruelty. Soon Ella realizes that while she could check herself into the asylum, she cannot check herself out. At the mercy of the doctor, her treatments grow more barbarous and agonizing by the day.

Ella must escape before the horrific experiments leave her dead. Or completely mad. But her only hope is the surly and stubborn Baron. Only he can stand between her and the twisted treatments her Doctor insists are necessary.

Will the Baron help Ella or betray her? And what terrible fate is waiting for Ella beneath the asylum?

Kristen Brand’s The Ghost Machine is a haunting page-turner, powered every step of the way by Ella’s determination and intelligence. Fans of plucky, resourceful heroines, ghastly ghosts, and abominable clockwork machines will adore this book.

Check into Auttenburg Asylum and read The Ghost Machine today!

 

The Witch’s March: History Fact #3

The Lebel Model 1886 M93 model was the main French sniper rifle used during WW1. Pictured is the rifle fited with an original A.P.X. 1916 scope, as used by Maréchal Beachêne in The Witch’s March.

The elfish have evolved with the times, no longer just  legendary for their skill with bow and arrow, but also the rifle.  His rivals have claimed it’s due to his enhanced sight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t argue the simple fact: Beachêne is the best of the best.